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Straight from the Vine -- Archives : Pinot Noir

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    Stanford Vs. Oregon: From Pigskin to Pinot Noir

    Stanford, California (ranked 4th worldwide) takes on Oregon (ranked 6th worldwide) at Stanford November 12, 2011. Huge audience anticipated. Should be a tight contest.
    Football? Sure. But the burning question is: Which state makes the best Pinot Noir? Inquiring minds want to know.
    California grows about 36,000 acres of Pinot Noir vines, out of some 535,000 total acres of wine grapes. Oregon grows about 11,500 acres of Pinot Noir, but those acres comprise nearly 60% of Oregon’s total vine acreage. Both states doubled their Pinot Noir plantings in the year...

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    Posted by Mr. Bruce Cass on Nov 2 2011 7:47AM | 0 comments

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    Expensive viticulture, ribald personality. Can wines truly reflect both?  Does Pinot Noir really need to improve over 8 years in bottle?

            Gary Pisoni is a wonderful incarnation of a colorful, eccentric lineage of wine personalities in California. They go back a long way, and they’re legendary. Agoston Harazthy, who claimed to be a Hungarian Count, and reputedly died in Nicaragua while trying to cross a crocodile-infested stream on a small tree limb. Paul Masson, who delighted in hosting sparkling wine baths for actresses at his Saratoga mountain winery during the waning years of the Victorian age. His successor, Martin Ray, who sold shares in his winery (Mount Eden) to investors, then denied them access to the property, while pricing his wines at three times more than any other examples on the market. Dr. David Bruce (a...

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    Posted by Mr. Bruce Cass on Mar 11 2010 12:33PM | 0 comments

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    Bodega Bistro, Little Saigon, S.F.

    Vietnamese, but with meat. Very sophisticated food. Break out a quality French wine. Red Burgundy would be especially useful.

           Bodega (website, 415-921-1218, on Larkin – two doors uphill from Eddy, medium-priced with a couple temptations to splurge) may sound like a noteworthy California seafood place. That’s actually Hayes St Grill, about eight blocks away (owned by the very talented food writer, and Stanford alumna, Patricia Untermann). When I tell you BoDeGa is a Vietnamese restaurant, you may immediately think of plates filled with vegetables. That’s not entirely untrue, but it’s helpful to know the translation from the Vietnamese language: Bo = beef; De = lamb; Ga = chicken. Vegans can eat at Bodega, but they can’t get uppity.
           Let’s not mince words here. If you insist on ordering beer to drink w...

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    Posted by Mr. Bruce Cass on Jan 11 2010 12:07PM | 0 comments

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    2006 Marquis d Angerville 1st cru Volnay (Les Cailleret)

    From the Côte de Beaune. Modest color, but tightly refined nose w/ floral highlights. Beautiful oolong-like finish. Good value for around $80. Duck leg confit in a salad with pomegranate seeds.
          Both Volnay and Montelie can represent pretty good bargains in a Burgundy market which seems to be continuously hyperventilating. This wine from an under-hyped vintage, nevertheless comes from a very highly-regarded 1st Cru vineyard, and perhaps Volnay’s most illustrious producer. Like a tall, slim woman on a Parisian boulevard, this wine is both elegantly understated and eye-catching at the very same time. It makes you feel grown up, at a young adult price.

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    Posted by Mr. Bruce Cass on Jan 8 2010 3:20PM | 0 comments

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    2006 Vougeraie Savigny-les-Beaune (Marconnets)

    Bio-dynamic since 2001. Wild yeast. Attractive feral nose with black cherry robe. Minced squab and plum sauce.

           At speaking engagements, British wine writer Clive Coates likes to joke about Burgundian vintners, “You know, they’re all peasants.” Clive is not being disparaging. He is colorfully illustrating the manner in which Burgundians are yoked to the land. Wealthy, well-educated, well-traveled vintners from Burgundy still spend months of every year in their vineyards pruning, pulling leaves, replanting, and harvesting. This close relationship to the soil may help explain why Burgundy has so many organic and bio-dynamic vineyards. Heaven knows, organic grape growing is not easy when rain is likely to fall at any time during the Summer.

           Domaine de la Vougeraie was organized by Jean-Charles Boisset and his sister Nathalie in the 1990’s to consolidat...

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    Posted by Mr. Bruce Cass on Dec 22 2009 12:08PM | 0 comments

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    2002 F. Magnien Chambolle-Musigny (Charmes)

    Truly great red Burgundy is delightful, in no small part because it is so hard to find. About $95 in a retail store.

             I always find buying red Burgundies to be something of a dice roll. There is no argument that the wines can be brilliant on occasion, but they are also very expensive, and a big price point is no guarantee of quality.
             Frederic Magnien is rapidly becoming a favorite producer of mine. This wine comes from one of the two best premier cru vineyards in the commune (out of 24 total). It has a chalky substrate over a rocky base, so yields are typically very small ~ a little over one ton per acre, which is about one-third of what is allowed under appellation of origin regulations. This tiny production serves to accentuate the commune’s famously ...

    Find the remainder of this post in the Top Wine Reviews section

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    Posted by Mr. Bruce Cass on Nov 22 2009 1:56PM | 0 comments